Rioters’ Voices Shall Not Go Unheard


Reports and analysis on the UK riots can be seen everywhere around the globe, not only in the UK but also in my country. Where does riot come from? From Mr. Cameron’s “Big Society” project, or liberalist dogma, or consumerism, or bad parenting or bad policing. Whatever the opinion is, it comes from someone who is from the middle-upper class, who has no worry of survival, who can still earn money by writing even at such a tough time.

However, the rioters’ voices have gone largely unheard until I saw an interview of Sky News on our national TV( The Sky reporter talked with some of the looters. One of those heavily masked men told Sky that he was looting for his family and his son. He robbed diapers, milk powders and other necessities. The 16 year old looter did not look evil or ugly, but helpless and lost. Although they were not regretful about the looting and just thought it was a “Christmas that came early”, if I were Mr. Cameron, I would still love to sit down and talk with them. If I don’t know what they are thinking or what they need, I will not know how to help them or “moralise” them.

Obviously, the UK is not planning to “sit down and talk with them”. I see friends on Facebook calling the riot “gang criminality” and calling for crackdown. I read on Guardian that some are even calling for curfew and army. Mr. Cameron isn’t planning to “talk” either. He wants water cannons, rubber bullets and to “fight fire with fire”. We only see courts working 24 hours a day, police presence just in case and the two parties attacking each other over social policy, but we don’t see any report on a sociologist going out to the rioted area and talk with the rioters.

I don’t know whether such a “sit-down-and-talk” is useful. Maybe sociologists have done numerous researches. However, the fact stands there anyway, we are in a world where the upper class is interpreting the underclass. We so far have not heard a complete version of story from the “ignored underclass” (This phrase can be found on And I hardly believe those who have never starved, whose CVs have never been rejected without a response, who never need to  get diapers via looting can get an accurate explanation on what is going on in the UK. And I hardly believe those rioters’ voice are totally nonsense and are not necessary.

We have also seen middle-class involved in looting, ex-service men in Afghanistan involved in looting, and even London Olympic volunteers involved In looting. A sufficient explanation seems to be much much more than what we have seen in newspapers. And the voices of those looters must be valuable.

I am wondering whether the same goes for China. China is a country with many social problems, and every day, I read, watch and hear those scholars or experts talking about my life and making various calls for me, but I can never talk about myself where they can talk about me. Those who have iPhone4s(which is considered as a luxury in China) may not know what I, a guy who have only a Nokia, am thinking. I don’t know whether those people talking about me have ever stepped into my life. I do hope they have and they have talked with people not only like me but also unlike me. China’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily once called the ruling party to hear “voices that have gone unheard”. The unheard voices are not just those of dissidents or disagreement, but also those of you and me who are also entitled to stand out and tell our version of our own stories.

The author Horace Lu is an intern editor of He can be reached at

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